Thursday marked the start of football on the Pac-12 Networks, with Utah earning the honor of playing in the inaugural game. Fans who get their television through Comcast saw it. Fans with DirecTV? Well, those are the ones everyone wanted to talk about.
A day after the network sent an open letter to fans encouraging them to switch providers, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott reiterated that “there’s no signal from DirecTV that” a deal is “going to happen anytime soon.”
The commissioner, who spoke to reporters before kickoff between the Utes and Northern Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium, heralded a strong start for the television network, which has agreements with 30 providers to broadcast 35 football games and 150 basketball games.
However, DirecTV has remained a primary sticking point, although Dish Network has also not struck a deal with the Pac-12.
“If you read what DirecTV put out a day or two ago,” Scott said, “they were questioning whether our fans really need to have it. And want to have it, whether it’s worth it, whether our fans will be satisfied just by what they get on ESPN, Fox and all that. I don’t think that’s the case.”
Scott said that the start of the football season could spark interest from the satellite provider, but sympathized with fans who held out hope that a deal would be struck before the start of the season.
“Now that that hasn’t happened,” he said, “the reason our Pac-12 Networks folks put out the letter was to let fans know it doesn’t look like there’s going to be that distribution in the foreseeable future. Fortunately, a lot of our fan base has options with cable.”
However, it was on quite short notice that the network gave fans a heads up.
In addition to Utah and Arizona State’s games Thursday, the network will broadcast Stanford’s game against San Jose State on Friday and California versus Nevada and San Diego State at Washington on Sunday.
“I think fans will vote with their pocketbook,” Scott said. “And if people want it — which I believe they will — if they’re not satisfied with their current service provider, they will find out that does satisfy them.”